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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

MORAL    JUDGMENTS    IN    HISTORY

running to myth if we mount the story on the pattern
of the conventional war for righteousness.
• It is perhaps not too much to say that in the fifty years
since the death of Lord Acton the moral constitution of
the historian's universe—if we leave out of account the
literature which is incident to revolution and war—has
been changing its character in a subtle manner. The
change may be due to the fact that, whereas in former
times men built up their picture of human advance from
the study of mighty episodes like the Renaissance, the
Reformation and the French Revolution, the more
meticulous study of the broad intervening spaces—the
central period of the eighteenth century for example—
has shown us since that time how much progress is due
to the gradual development of things in times of peace
and stability, when passions subside and human beings
are able to grow in reasonableness. It would perhaps
be true to say that, ever since the time of Acton, there-
fore, a different kind of historical analysis has shown to
what a great degree the advances that have mattered in
the world have in a certain sense been the cooperative
achievement of the whole human race—not so much the
result of the victory that one set of men secured over
another. The Aristotelians of Padua as well as the
Platonists of Renaissance Florence contributed to the
development of the scientific revolution. English liberty
has been enriched in recent centuries because of the
refusal to divide the country irredeemably by the
trenchant assertiveness of Revolution—the refusal to
carry the issue to the point of a " war for righteousness "«
The really important things (like the spread of education
H.H.R.                          129                                i